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Skin Transplant Journey

 

 
Preparing For Transplant
 
The patient will first be resuscitated and stabilized. As burns are the result of accidents - such as chemical/gas explosion, fire or car accident, skin transplant will need to be carried out rapidly to improve survival chances of the patient.

Transplant Procedure 
 

Skin transplant is carried out under general anesthesia. The skin tissues to be used for transplant will be transported to the operating theatre and thawed before grafting onto the burns wounds. The surgeon will surgically remove the badly burnt skin before carrying out skin transplant. As the skin grafts can only provide temporary coverage over the burn wounds, each patient may require several repeated skin transplant procedures as part of their burns treatment.

 
Life After Transplant 
 

Patients will be hospitalized for about three to six months and undergo rehabilitation. They also need extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions as part of their rehabilitation process.

 
FAQs

 

1. Using donated skin
Donated skin is life-saving even though it is used as a temporary dressing to treat  severe burns patients. This is because donated skin tissue serves as a layer of wound protection for these patients who otherwise might die from infection due to the harmful pathogens in the environment. The use of donor skin is necessary as these severe burns patients do not have enough healthy skin on their body that the surgeon can use to graft onto their wounds.  In addition, donated skin helps to minimize fluid loss and relieve patients pain and discomfort.
Patients who suffer severe burn injuries can be due to industrial or domestic accidents. They include toddlers scalded by hot water at home and adults badly burnt by chemicals or flames.

2. How is skin recovered?
Skin is recovered from a deceased donor. Using special instruments, only the outer skin is recovered, leaving more than 85% thickness of the donor’s skin still intact. The recovered skin pieces are processed, individually packed and specially stored at temperatures ranging from -70◦C to -196◦C, for up to 5 years. Stringent donor evaluation and microbiological tests are performed before donated skin tissues are certified safe for transplantation.

3. Will any disfigurements occur as a result of donation?
The donors body is treated with utmost respect at all times. Skin is typically recovered from the deceased donors back and lower limbs. There is hardly any disfigurement and bleeding involved. The family members of the deceased can also choose the areas from which the skin is recovered. After recovery, an open casket funeral can still be an option for the donor.
The Skin Bank, established by the Burns Centre at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), recovers, prepares and preserves donated skin to be used for burns treatment. As with other organs, skin can be donated upon a person's death.

4. How do I sign up as a skin donor?
Anyone above the age of 18 can make this life saving decision by completing an Organ Donation Pledge Form and submitting it to the National Organ Transplant Unit (NOTU). The form can be downloaded from www.liveon.sg. Speak to your loved ones about donation. Share your wishes with your family, so that at the time of donation, they will know that they are acting according to your wishes.